The Aerial Defense Division “Juniper Cobra” Training Exercise with US EUCOM (United States European Command) officially began yesterday. From the arrival of the American forces through the joint effort in different challenges – everything about the exercise that will utilize 4,000 Israeli and American soldiers and all IAF airbases and HQ

Tal Giladi | Translation: Ofri Aharon

 The IDF’s and US EUCOM combined exercise, “Juniper Cobra 16”, whose goal is to improve the cooperation and coordination between the forces and to improve readiness for defense from ballistic missiles, officially began yesterday. During the course of the exercise, over 1,700 soldiers from the U.S will participate together with the IDF in addressing computer simulated challenges that Israel could face.

This is considered the largest IDF and USA cooperation, which isn’t a coincidence. The JC (Juniper Cobra) exercise which has held biennially since 2001 is a large scale training exercise which constitutes of the peak of the US Armed Forces and Israeli Aerial Defense Division’s cooperation relations.

Throughout the exercise, Americans and Israelis together, shoulder to shoulder will simulate war, exercise, debrief and draw conclusions. The Israeli participants are the senior combatants and officers of the Aerial Defense Division, an IDF Directorate, IAF HQ, The Home Front Command and security industry personnel. The American participants are the 10th Army Air & Missile Defense Command, which consists of officers and soldiers whose mission is to stand by Israel in aerial defense aid when needed while routinely exercising their mission, with the JC exercise consisting of the peak.

The Largest IDF & USA Cooperation

Photo by: Ayelet Eder

“A security alliance unmatched by any other country in the world”
The main goal of the training exercise, which will last three weeks, as stated before, is to increase the longstanding cooperation between the forces in defense missions and aerial control.
The exercise, which commenced with a celebratory ceremony, will simulate a week of war, and every Aerial Defense Systems will take part – “Iron Dome”, “Patriot”, “David’s Sling”, and “Arrow”.
“In this exercise, you can see the full architecture that builds the active defense world. This exercise is a significant mile-stone in the strategic relationship between the two countries, a security alliance unmatched by any other country in the world”, exclaimed Brig.-Gen. Zvika Haimovich, Aerial Defense Division Commander. “This is a great opportunity to learn from our past operational experience, this is a cooperation which expresses great appreciation for the IDF, the IAF and the Aerial Defense Division”.

In a ceremony that took place today in Hazor Airbase, the exercise’s base, Americans and Israelis assembled to officially mark the beginning of the exercise. “We came here to work and strengthen our cooperation with Israel and utilize it to the best of our abilities in order to achieve the best operational outcome”, said General Mark Loeben, Director of Exercises and Assessments at Headquarters. “Support for Israel’s defense has been an integral part of US policy in the region for decades and this exercise has and will continue, to directly support that policy”.


The Largest IDF & USA Cooperation

Photo by: Ayelet Eder


Preparing for Real Time
So, how do you design such a complicated exercise and what are its steps?
“Preparing for such an exercise takes months of intensive work in three parts: deciding the content, logistics and administrative work with the partner”, explained Lt. Col. Erez Eilmelech, head of the Exercise Directorate. “We design different scenarios which include different weapons and techniques and varying intensities of missiles barrages in order to be prepared for anything that might occur. In the logistic aspect, a whole camp which includes war-rooms was established. This is the largest cooperation between the IDF and the US, any other exercise are of low intensityin comparison”.

The exercise began with the arrival of the American forces and their equipment, its deployment by building operational sites and communication sites and continues through simulations that checks the technological systems.

“We make decisions together and build situation reports using different elements – how many interceptions were there? Was the interceptor in the right place or should we move it? The operational planning teams draw conclusions from the training for the benefit of real time”, explained Maj. Tal Kaduri, Head of Active Defense Cooperation in the Division.
After the simulations, there will be a peak week in which the systems will train 24/7, in order to resemble a full on war.